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Being a smarter introvert

I am a bold introvert. I am not shy; I am not insecure; I enjoy meeting people and having conversations. I don’t love parties, but neither do I loathe them. I am not what most people picture when they think of an introvert. Nonetheless, if I had to choose between company and solitude, I’d choose solitude every time. I have a friend who is an extrovert’s extrovert. She is fueled by people, and she seems to know everyone in North Texas. She doesn’t seem to understand how it is that I don’t know people in our not overlarge church, and she certainly wouldn’t understand that I don’t really want to know them all.

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until  Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” Audrey Hepburn

It’s not that I don’t like people; it’s just that they’re exhausting.  Each relationship requires energy from me, and sometimes that’s energy that I can’t muster. After every meeting, every bible study, every prolonged conversation with anyone, I need a break. I need people to not talk to me. They don’t have to be quiet, they don’t have to go away, but the do have to leave me alone. That includes the dog. You may imagine that this makes for some fun times as a homeschool family together all time, discussing everything all the time. “Go play outside!” is often more for my benefit than theirs. (That makes it sound as if I get no benefit or enjoyment from the company of others. I do, but the energy it takes for me to engage with others must be accrued in solitude.)


I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, busier, or less alone now, but I’m noticing the need for solitude and silence more lately. I also notice that I tend to get snappish when I haven’t had opportunities for solitude, or when I’ve had to be with people too often in a short span. I have also developed the habit of not being quiet in my solitude, which hasn’t helped. Too often I’m listening to music or on the internet, clicking videos and reading posts. But this is another kind of noise that doesn’t lead to the restoration that I need.

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”― Pablo Picasso

I find myself hungering for solitude more than I use to; whether from less access to it or greater appreciation of it, I don’t know. But I do know this hunger is making me rethink the patterns and priorities of my life. I best serve my family and fulfill the call God has given me when I’ve taken the time to be alone, but the life God has called me to is one that is primarily in the presence of others. It’s a dance to which I’m still working out the steps.

I’m discovering I need to be more deliberate with my solitude.  Not only do I need to schedule and protect blocks of time to be alone, but I need to use that time for restoration. I’ve learned this: reading books restores me, being in nature restores me, writing restores me. Television? I’m not sure. I think television allows me to rest because nobody is talking to me, but I’m not sure it restores me like those quiet activities that allow me to process my thoughts. Most of the things on the internet do not restore me, but they do distract me.  Social media, blogs, and videos are fun and can be informative, but that aren’t soul food.

  • I know I need solitary devotions before the boys are up and moving and asking for affection and breakfast.
  • I know I need solitude to analyze the day’s tasks and plan for the next day.
  • I know I need solitude to just think, or not think, about frivolities and fancies.
  •  I know I need solitude for certain kinds of work — although most of my work as a homeschooling mom is communal.

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That sounds like a lot of solitude, and it’s certainly much more than I am now taking, but not an unreasonable amount. If I spend a couple of hours — ten percent of my day — in deliberate solitude, the other hours will be more fruitful and enjoyable. Now to exert the self-discipline to make it happen.

“When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude”
― William Wordsworth

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert.  How do you spend your time alone? How do you communicate your need for solitude to your friends and family?

12 responses to “Being a smarter introvert”

  1. Mary Holley Avatar
    Mary Holley

    I need a balance. I related to the cartoon you posted the other day. I’m bored!-I’m overwhelmed!

  2. April Avatar

    The problem is you can’t find balance and just stay there. Everything is always shifting, and you are always having to readjust.

  3. Wayne Cockfield Avatar
    Wayne Cockfield

    I’m a serious introvert, but I can perform as an extrovert when I have to.

    1. April Avatar

      I think a lot of people confuse “outgoing” with “introvert.” For example, I’m an inviter and an organizer, which means more than once, I’ve had 40 people in my house for a party I didn’t intend to throw. But I’m still an introvert and will need to step away and be alone to collect my thoughts. So people will think I’m an extrovert because I interact well with others, but it’s draining and I have to be alone to be refueled.

      1. Cindy Watson Avatar
        Cindy Watson


  4. Cindy Watson Avatar
    Cindy Watson

    I find with my job I have a lot of driving to do. I can get some of the quietness by not having anything on the radio. But very much like you; I like people, I love my job that involves helping people and I love my kids. At the same time, if I don’t get alone time, quiet mornings ,time to refuel… When my kids do theatre and I run the green room during tech week, it’s obvious who is introverted and extroverted. My sons and I get home and run to the four corners of the house not talking to anyone, head phones on, doors shut. My daughter follows one of us around and wants to keep talking because she has all this excess energy. Makes for an interesting life!

    1. April Avatar

      My oldest is very definitely an extrovert, although she does well by herself, too. But I do see her getting energized around people. My younger daughter likes to be alone, even though she’s friendly and well liked. I’m still figuring out my sons, but I’m pretty sure they’re following the same pattern. Satchmo is very definitely wary of people.

  5. Marcia Dolan Avatar
    Marcia Dolan

    Everyone in my family (except for me) is an introvert. At times, all I can do is go – UGH, but I am learning to appreciate the divine differences. My Allison is an introvert – hard core. She is also a natural born leader. She can’t seem to do anything without having people follow her. She has one pin on pinterest and 150 followers. God knows what He is doing. I love God’s sense of humor (but I laugh harder when the joke is on someone else). Either way, God’s humor, i.e., his creativity, makes His wisdom so glorious.

    1. April Avatar

      That made me laugh, Marcia. Well, iron sharpens iron and you and your family are razor sharp! Now I want to go follow Allison’s pin.

      1. Marcia Dolan Avatar
        Marcia Dolan

        Apparently she is up to 12 pins now and has 164 followers. Yawn.

  6. Renae Avatar

    Yes! I do much better when I have solitude, but I have felt guilty taking it. I am definitely getting over that! It is good for everyone if I take time alone. The other thing that I seem to need more now is time with just my husband.

    1. April Avatar

      Renae, yes! That gets more difficult as kids get older and involved in more things. It seems like we’re always going in different directions. Carving out time with my husband is one of those things that needs to be at the top of the list.

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